Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 11 December 2020.
What to Look for in Summer is a new live double album gathering choice selections from Belle and Sebastian’s 2019 world tour, including last summer’s epic “Boaty Weekender” cruise. Neither a retrospective nor a back-door greatest-hits, What To Look For In Summer is the sound of a band that’s always moving forward, a picture of Belle and Sebastian in 2019 that gives equal weight to early days (“My Wandering Days Are Over,” “Seeing Other People”) and recent years (“Poor Boy,” We Were Beautiful”), with a track selection Murdoch says was almost random. “I’m a Cuckoo,” #2 on the band’s Setlist.FM stats, didn’t even make the cut. But you get three songs from 2000’s Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant (which the band played in full at the Boaty Weekender).
Lonnie Holley and the late visionary producer Richard Swift collaborate on National Freedom. The 5-song EP is a tribute to urgent, raw, American art — from Howlin’ Wolf to Captain Beefheart, from Cecil Taylor to Bo Diddley. The songs pulse with anger, hope, energy and a bit of swagger. You can hear sweat and tears through the speaker. Swift left us two years ago today, but his spirit buzzes through these songs.
There Is A Tide is the new album from Chris Potter and ONLY Chris Potter. Of course, 2020 is year no one will forget – a year in which the global lockdown was shared by all, and yet experienced in a million different ways. Recorded during lockdown, Chris performed ALL instruments including drums, guitar, bass, percussion, woodwinds and, of course, saxophones. For a musician who has been on the road continuously since the 1990s, whose raison d’etre is playing live, lockdown presented Potter with both a challenge and an opportunity. It’s a tribute to his creativity, personal integrity and huge musical talent that Chris was able to take on this challenge and make something unbelievably fresh from the opportunity.
Vasily Petrenko’s previous Stravinsky recordings have been universally praised by the critics for the fine interpretations of these great scores, the superb playing of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and for the outstanding recorded sound. The same technical team was on hand for the final album in the series – the 1911 version of Petrushka, which is coupled with the delightful Rossini/Respighi La Boutique fantasque.
Louis Philippe & The Night Mail have just released their new album, Thunderclouds. “I have never done a record quite like this before, with a live band in the studio, though I had always wanted to do it,” says Louis Philippe. Coming from this golden-voiced, born French- and renaissance man, a Londoner by choice for the last 34 years, this seems quite astonishing. After all, this key figure of the baroque pop/chamber pop genre spent a good part of his life making his own as well as producing, writing, arranging, playing and singing on countless other people’s records, be it as house producer and songwriter for Mike Alway’s legendary él Records or as a collaborator with kindred spirits such as The High Llamas, Towa Tei, Martin Newell, Big Big Train, Testbild!, The Clientele and Bertrand Burgalat.
Following the release of These Feral Lands Volume I in November, Laura Cannell (violin/composer) and Kate Ellis (cellist/composer) have released their new EP Winter Rituals. Cannell and Ellis have unearthed a parallel musical DNA, embedded early in both of their musical careers are traditional folk styles and folklore, though that might not be their main output now, their common ground has found it’s way onto this new EP of Winter Rituals – A celebration of collective rituals. From the ancient customs of Wassailing – carolling around a tree and spreading good cheer to a traditional folk dance, the Irish lamenting song She Moved Through the Fair (One Star Awake), they also bring a taste of their future duo work in Merrows, a piece recorded inside Jaywick Martello Tower on the Essex coast and an old thatched cottage in Suffolk and inspired by the Irish mer people who could travel between land and sea using a special hat. Playing violin, cello and the organ of St James’s church, Clacton on Sea, the duo connect with personal histories and folklore, and offer this as a celebration of collective winter rituals.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television